Sunken Luthe was sunken no more.
The streets of the once-great city lay in ruins, toppled during the bitter fighting that had consumed it even as it rose from the depths of the Western Sea. With strange magics and demonic allies, the traitorspawn had risen, their hatred and horror at the injustices that the chosen people of Luthe had inflicted upon them, simply for the sins of their ancestors.
Now, Parakk the Bold reflected, the tables had turned - but they would not turn again. Not one of Leviathan's spawn remained alive, as the bloody sun set. Nearly half of Parakk's people had died alongside them, as well as most of the demons that his patron had provided, but the cost was small in the name of freedom. Parakk himself had lost his left arm, and was covered in blood, but he stood atop Leviathan's corpse as he addressed his people.
â€œBrave children of the Dragons!â€ His voice echoed over the cracked marble steps and through the ruined square. â€œThe Great Orca that enslaved us is dead! The Lunar Leviathan will never again threaten our glorious people!â€ Ringing cheers echoed from those still with enough energy. â€œNow, the true task begins. We will restore Luthe to glory, and we will set out on our grand crusade. None of the tainted races will be allowed to live. Many will join us, understanding our purity. The Anathema will stand against us, but we have a greater power than them. The Mother of Creation herself deems our mission a holy one, and she will not fail us!â€ More cheers, and Parakk looked about his people with a smile. â€œThe Dragon-Blooded who abandoned us are corrupt, but there are seeds of those who will see the truth, and they will stand beside us! Soon, we will be a mighty army once again!â€ He reflected that in a year's time, many of these survivors would likely be dead, but the cause would gather momentum, sweeping the beastmen and Fair Folk and relic races from the surface of Creation, leaving only those who worshipped the Mother.
As the cheers rose around him, his smile broadened. Yes, it would be good.
â€œWatch it, you Dragon bastard! You almost stabbed me!â€ With a grimace of annoyance, Lyta let her anima flare, the golden light of the Dawn surrounding her tiger claws as she flipped into the air and stabbed downwards. The claws sliced through black lead and flesh, and Garem Seabrother, Conduit of Sadageres, winced from the pain.
â€œThat would have been an acceptable sacrifice.â€ On the Conduit's other side, the spear in question spun twice and stabbed downwards, and Garem stumbled as he tripped over her. Peleps Deled was as solemn as the grave as he pressed his advantage. The Conduit growled low in his chest.
â€œThis is why Creation is weak!â€ As he spoke, he brought his amber-tinted axe around to drive at Lyta's chest. A moment later, Deled interposed himself, catching the axe on the haft of his spear. Lyta jumped over him as Garem attempted to untangle himself, landing another blow across his cheek. â€œYou are mortal enemies, you are not meant to ... to co-operate!â€
â€œOh, don't get me wrong. Tomorrow, water-boy is going down.â€ Lyta smiled brightly, launching a spin kick that Garem blocked with the heavy blade of his axe. â€œBut we agreed that you're the bigger threat.â€
â€œIndeed, it was an unfortunate compromise, but a needed one.â€ Deled glanced around at the bodies scattering the cobblestone streets of Wavecrest. â€œYou were too mighty for my band to face alone. She is not.â€
â€œCompromise is a weakening of principle!â€ Garem's axe skipped off the ground and hit Deled in the chest. The Immaculate monk's body wavered like the water as it passed almost harmlessly through, though his mouth tightened slightly at the pain the Charm required to function. â€œYou are not meant to be allies! You were meant to destroy each other!â€
â€œTough luck for you. We swore an oath - no fighting each other until a day after you die. Lyr over there sanctified it.â€ Lyta gestured towards one of the corpses. â€œAnd then you went and killed him, you Yozi-spawned bastard!â€ She was in a rotten mood. It had taken her months to find two more Solars who understood her goals and beliefs, and now they were both dead. It was little consolation that the four monks that Deled had brought with him had died as well - but a somewhat greater consolation that Garem would be joining them shortly. The Conduit had unleashed deadly magics, even going so far as to summon Sadageres to the world, where the Worm twisted above them, spreading strange fortune to aid its champion, but he was nearly spent and badly wounded. The two Exalts knew that he could not win, and she suspected he understood that as well.
She caught Deled's eye, and he nodded almost imperceptably. As Garem stepped backwards, the two moved as one, claws swiping up in an explosion of golden light even as the spear stabbed downwards with the force of a tsunami. Garem, torn between two attacks, was unable to block either. The claws stabbed into his neck, tearing a chunk free, and the spear pierced his heart. He sank to his knees. â€œYou... will not live... to enjoy your...â€ The stars swirled above him, the endless line of Sadageres weeping with rage, falling to the earth around Lyta and Deled. The Solar grinned fiercely. â€œYou fight pretty good, Dragon. Shame you're such a devoted traitor.â€
â€œAnd for a demon, you have basic concepts of loyalty and devotion rather well. They will not, of course, save you come tommorow.â€
â€œLooking forwards to it, you big...â€ Lyta's grin faded as she looked around. â€œSay, shouldn't those falling stars be getting less frequent?â€
Deled looked up, and swore. The Celestial Worm's secretions were surrounding the two Exalts, and the entire Courtyard was shrouded in shifting lights, so powerful they could not see to the end. â€œRun!â€ Lyta didn't argue. Without a thought, the two Exalts ran side by side, dashing for the far edge of the yard.
As they reached it, Lyta slightly in the lead, she skidded to a halt. â€œOh, you have got to be kidding me.â€ Deled, reaching her side, followed her gaze. As the courtyard ended, it was met by a street of dark bone and metal. Above them, high in the sky, the Green Sun Ligier shone with fierce determination, and in the distance they could see the Demon City of Malfeas.
â€œWe've been transported to Sadageres's realm.â€ Deled's voice was tinted with the slightest hint of fear. â€œA realm of misfortune and unlucky happenstance, peopled entirely by demons and their slaves.â€ He looked up to the twisting Celestial Worm above him. â€œAnd I doubt he will release us.â€
â€œLet me get this straight.â€ Lyta looked around, hands on her hips. â€œI'm trapped in Malfeas, there's no easy way out, and my only companion is... you?â€
â€œApparantly.â€ Deled's jaw was clenched. â€œWe may be able to reach the Endless Desert and find our way back to Creation, but it seems unlikely.â€
â€œWell.â€ Lyta nodded for a moment. â€œShit.â€
Harakken Cyrus, the Conduit of Sachaverall, opened his eyes, and shook his head in annoyance. â€œWe've lost Kimbery and Sadageres. Poor fortune, that.â€
â€œIndeed.â€ Iselsi Theos, Conduit of Adorjan, looked thoughtfully towards the horizon. â€œIt weakens our alliance at a time when the others remain strong.â€ Then he smiled, grimly. â€œStill, Cytheria and Zuratha have succeed at their tasks, as have we. That leaves four Yozi in Creation, dedicated to its purification. And you and I have had many years to integrate and prepare. The other alliances will not find us easy prey.â€
â€œPerhaps not. It is Malfeas's alliance that worries me the most. He has managed to secure entirely too many powerful Conduits to his way of thinking.â€ Cyrus sighed heavily. â€œWell, we will have plenty of time to consider this. I must go, and complete my final task before the Competition begins in earnest. And I imagine that you must do the same.â€
â€œIndeed. My pupil must be set on his own quest.â€ Thelos stood, and bowed. â€œI will see you soon, old friend.â€
â€œI look forwards to it. Sacheverall guide your steps.â€ Cyrus bowed in return.
â€œAnd Adorjan guard your passing.â€ With that, the two Conduits departed. Their alliance had suffered casualties, but the situation remained a positive one. Creation's defenders were falling, one by one. The world would soon be purified.